A Diamond is Forever
An Examination into the De Beers Monopoly
“A Diamond is Forever” – is one of the most successful slogans of the twentieth century. The advertising slogan belongs to De Beers, the world’s most successful monopoly of trade. “A Diamond is Forever” has been the center of De Beers’ effort to establish the stone as the only appropriate gem to symbolize lifetime love and commitment. The slogan, along with the $180 million dollars spent yearly in advertising by De Beers , has been immensely successful as the company continues to remain the leader of its industry – a monopoly of the diamond trade.
Control of De Beers:
The slogan “A Diamond is Forever” concentrates on a combination of emotion and status. The true genius of De Beers lies in having created a connection between human love and power with something that has no value at all. You can’t eat a diamond, you can’t drive it home, you can’t make clothes out of it, you can’t build houses out of it, yet people are willing to spend a lot of money on a diamond because they feel a connection that a diamond (and their love, power, and status) will last forever. De Beers’ slogan has and continues to be a success. The idea of engagement continues to result in the purchase of a diamond ring – within three years of the slogan’s arrival on the market an estimated 80% of wedding engagements in the U.S. included diamonds.
De Beer’s success comes from the common notion that diamonds are indeed rare and valuable. Until the late nineteenth century, diamonds were only found in a few riverbeds in India and in the jungles of Brazil, and the entire world production of gem quality diamonds amounted to a few pounds a year. This changed when huge diamond mines were discovered in South Africa, where diamonds were mined out in tons. With this discovery in 1870, the market was flooded with diamonds and investors feared that the stone would loose its value, as its price relied exclusively on its scarcity. De Beers seized the moment to control the production and supply of the new abundance of diamonds in southern Africa, with the development of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. With control of the supply of diamonds, De Beers was able to continue the idea that diamonds are a rare good. There is in fact a large supply of diamonds, with more than 100 million carats coming out of the ground per year. The supply on the market however is controlled almost exclusively by De Beers.
De Beers has manipulated an artificial sense of a diamond’s scarcity by buying up new mines, freezing out challengers and mopping up excess supply.
Through a web of intricately intertwined businesses, De Beers has created a monopoly of power by controlling everything from the stones’ removal from the ground to their delivery into the hands of jewelers. De Beers’ advertising slogan, “A Diamond is Forever”, embodies a concept that the value of a diamond never diminishes and that therefore a diamond never need be sold...